The sun shone down as the first brave people dived 15,000ft above Lancashire to raise money for Derian House Children’s Hospice throughout August.
Despite countless rescheduled dates due to bad weather, the group of daredevils were strapped to a skydiving instructor and experienced speeds of 120mph as they plummeted to the ground at Black Knights Parachute Centre, Lancaster.
The thrill-seekers managed to fundraise a whopping £29,000 between them that will go towards vital care for children and young people with life-limiting conditions across the North West.
There are 45 more divers booked in for September and October this year, with the fundraisers already having collectively hit over £76,000, including Gift Aid.
Joanna Jones, 29, dived out of a plane on Sunday 21 August and was met with applause from husband Steven, her parents, sister and best friend as she landed.
Joanna, who lives in Ormskirk with her husband and dog, said: “Skydiving has always been a dream of mine and I knew if I was going to do it, it would have to be for charity – and Derian House was the perfect one.
“I did this in memory of Daniel – my special friend and someone who felt like a brother to me. He had some of the best times at Derian due to the amazing care, joy and happiness they bring to the children and families they support. I became Dan’s carer eight years ago and he changed my life and taught me so much. Sadly, we lost him in 2019.
“I know how essential Derian is for families and how amazing the hospice is not only the care they deliver but the joy they can bring. I just can’t stand by and rely on others to support those in need. So it was time to stand up – or jump in my case! The skydive was an unreal experience – I’d definitely do it again.”
And it’s not just Derian supporters that took part in the incredible feat – staff from the charity also took to skies. Cameron Murray, Digital Content Coordinator at Derian House, chose to jump out of a plane after experiencing first-hand the care that the hospice provides.
Cameron, 27, said: “Spending each working day at Derian House and seeing the incredible work we do for so many families means so much to me. If I can do my bit to help keep the hospice’s doors open, then I’m more than happy to do so.
“The feeling of falling from 15,000ft is indescribable. It was like looking out of a plane window without the plane being there. I would go as far to say – life changing.
“I had a group of friends come and watch me alongside my fiancé, whilst being surrounded by my work pals from Derian House. As I came back down to earth – quite literally – I got quite emotional seeing my little fan club cheering and waving. I felt extremely proud and it gave me a feeling I wish I could bottle up forever. I got to experience something I never thought I’d get the chance to, so I’d highly recommend anyone wanting to tick something off their list to do so – for Derian House, of course!”
Dive for Derian organisers Ellie Smith and Kerry Pritchard, Community Fundraisers at Derian House, were on hand to support and cheer on the divers.
Kerry Pritchard said: “Care is free for families, but it costs £5.7million for the hospice to run services each year, so we rely on the bravery and kindness of our supporters who take part in events like these to help children whose lives are too short.”
Entry to Dive for Derian is free; all that the charity asks is that participants raise a minimum of £450 on JustGiving. Find out more about the event.